On Wednesday morning, August 24, 2011, young Police Officer Justin Sollohub, 27, was on patrol in the northwestern section of Anniston at the intersection of Moore and 19th streets, when he stopped to talk to a person near a car. When Sollohub stopped his patrol car, the party ran. Sollohub promptly notified headquarters that he was going in pursuit of the man on foot.
Another patrolman was headed in that direction, but as Sollohub rounded the corner of a house where the individual had disappeared, he was shot in the head and dropped there. The other officer was there within minutes and immediately called in, “Officer down”! And he then began to administer first aid to Sollohub.
The officer was transported to the University of Alabama Hospital in Birmingham where he was placed on life support. The doctors determined that there was no brain activity whatsoever, yet they kept him on life support, since he was an organ donor, until they could harvest his organs. He was declared dead about 3:00 P.M. on Thursday after they removed the life support system.
He was then taken to Huntsville for an autopsy which was finished overnight and they brought him to a local mortuary on Friday via a huge procession of 300+ police vehicles from much of the Northeast portion of the state and also some 30 or more motorcycle policemen. They were from cities, counties and even state police. A very moving spectacle and the streets and highways were lined with sympathetic citizens.
Sollohub was held in highest esteem by his superiors and his fellow officers. And his reputation as citizen was exceptional. He leaves behind, his mother, a step father who is a state trooper, a sister and younger brother and a fiancé.
After Sollohub was shot, a massive and very intensive manhunt was immediately launched also involving policemen from more than 15 law enforcement agencies from surrounding cities and counties plus state troopers and U.S. Marshalls, using a helicopter, dogs, armored vehicles and other resources from the area. The suspect was found in a nearby heavily wooded area and captured before nightfall on the day the incident occurred.
Joshua Eugene Russell, 25, was arrested and initially charged with attempted murder, a charge which was changed to capital murder once the victim had been pronounced dead. His bond was set at $300,000 for this charge. He is also being held on four counts related to charges of unlawful distribution of controlled substances under an additional $120,000 bond. He was also wanted by the police in Troy, Alabama (Pike County) for assaulting an officer and escape. For details of this arrest please Click Here.
None of those were Russell’s first encounters with law enforcement. He’d been released in October 2010 after serving about a year of a five-year prison sentence on earlier drug distribution charges stemming from an arrest in Anniston. (The Daily Home-Talladega, Alabama August 25, 2011)
Russell was transferred to the Etowah County Jail for his own safety and so his rights would be assured. The Calhoun County Sheriff made this decision due to emotions running high in the area of Anniston.
Funeral Services for Officer Justin Sollohub will be held at the Harvest Church of God in Golden Springs at 2:00 P.M. on Monday August 29, 2011. Visitation period will be from 2: P.M. until 8:00 P.M. on Sunday August 28, 2011 at the church.